Fifth National Government of New Zealand
The Fifth National Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand for three parliamentary terms from 19 November 2008 to 26 October 2017. John Key served as National Leader and Prime Minister until December 2016, after which Bill English assumed the premiership until the National Government's defeat following the October 2017 government-forming negotiations.
After the 2008 general election the National Party and its allies were able to form a government, taking over from Helen Clark's Fifth Labour Government. It was subsequently reformed after the 2011 general election with a reduced number of seats, and after the 2014 general election with a reduced share of the party vote but the same number of seats. The Government had confidence and supply agreements with the following parties: ACT, United Future, and the Māori Party – which gave the Government a majority on major legislation. The National Party also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Green Party after the 2008 election, but this lapsed in 2011 and was not renewed.
Treaty of Waitangi/SettlementsThe involvement of the National government within this particular area was seen through their approach in settlements.
National government's involvement of Treaty affairs:
- Ngai Tuhoe deed of settlement
- Apology to affiliate Te Arawa
- Negotiation with Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi
- The Fifth Labour Government's Emissions Trading Scheme was delayed and the Emissions Trading Scheme Review Committee was set up to review the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme in accordance with the coalition agreement with the ACT Party. In November 2009, an amended version of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme was adopted.
- Personal tax cuts, reducing taxes on all income; the top personal tax rate was lowered from 39% to 38% and then 33%.
- Abolished the Loss Attributing Qualifying Company tax structure, which had allowed individuals to reduce their individual income tax by off setting their LAQCs losses.
- Increased GST from 12.5% to 15% in October 2010.
- Increased the minimum wage from $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour in its first term, and to $14.25 in its second term. This represents a nominal 3.1% average annual increase, significantly lower than the previous government's nominal 7.9% annual average increase.
- Suspended payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
- Introduced the nine-day working fortnight for businesses who were considering laying off staff.
- Capped the minimum employers' contributions to KiwiSaver at 2%, the amount was due to increase to 4% by 2011 and gave employees the option to contribute as little as 2% of their income to KiwiSaver where previously the smallest contribution amount was 4%. The minimum employee and minimum employer contributions were raised to 3% in April 2013.
- Introduced the "mixed ownership model" plan, in which the Government planned to reduce its share in Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy from 100% to 51% and Air New Zealand from 74% to 51%, and sell off the remainder. The plans to sell down Solid Energy were later axed due to the company's poor financial position. A citizens-initiated referendum on the sell-downs returned a 67.3% vote in opposition.
- Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout of fibre to the house to 87% of households
- Seven Roads of National Significance
- Repealed the Electoral Finance Act 2007
- Introduced the Governor-General Act 2010, to reform the Governor-General's salary and allowances.
- A second referendum alongside the 2011 election on the voting system, and after the majority voted in the referendum to retain the existing mixed member proportional system, an independent review on the workings of the MMP system.
- A Constitutional Review starting in 2011.
- Introduced the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008 in December 2008 which allowed employers with less than 20 staff to dismiss an employee within the first 90 days of employment for no particular reason. In 2010 the bill was extended to all employers.
- Allowed employees to cash in their fourth week of annual leave, employees can now take 3 weeks holiday and be paid for the fourth while still working. The fourth week of annual leave was introduced by the previous government.
- A lifetime limit on student loans was introduced: if a student has studied more than 7 EFTS within their lifetime the student can no longer take out any further loans. Students receiving New Zealand Superannuation Fund payments or Veterans Pension can no longer receive the Student Allowance at the same time. Students are now required to pass more than half of their studies each year to receive a Student Loan or Allowance the following year, previously this requirement only affected the Student Allowance.
- Reformed social security benefits by consolidating seven major benefits into three new ones.
- Allowed U.S. navy ship into New Zealand for the New Zealand Navy 75th anniversary without conformation regarding nuclear weapons for the first time in 33 years
- Won a seat on the security council in the 2014 election, a process that started in 2004.
- In 2012, New Zealand and the U.S. signed the Washington Declaration, strengthening military cooperation and defence relations, for the first time in more than 30 years.
- Removal of the position of Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control.
- The government released a new Defence White Paper in 2016, outlining the New Zealand government's strategic defence policy objectives and how the Defence Force will be structured to meet these objectives by 2030 and beyond.
- Restored titles in the New Zealand honours system.
- Officially ended appointments to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, which would have meant that no new designations of "The Right Honourable" would be made, and that instead ministers will be known simply as "The Honorable". However, on 2 August 2010 it was announced by the Queen of New Zealand that those appointed to offices of Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker, and Chief Justice would be given the title "The Right Honourable" for life, "to preserve an important mark of distinction for the holders of the nation's highest public offices". Prime Minister John Key said "he appreciated the title" and also stated "Her Majesty believes it is appropriate also to acknowledge the service of the Governor-General, the Queen's representative in New Zealand, the Speaker, the highest officer in the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice, the head of the judicial branch of government".
- Two referendums on flag change; one to determine a possible alternative, the other to decide whether to change or not.
- Introduction of National Standards for primary and intermediate school children.
- Planned to change teacher to student ratios in the 2012 Budget, but withdrew two weeks later due to miscalculations regarding the effect of changes on intermediate schools and public opposition.
- Removal of all student allowances for postgraduate study at University.
- Rejected a bill for state-funded breakfast and lunch to be provided to students at all low-decile schools.
- In 2009 and 2010, the Government merged four city councils, three district councils and the Auckland Regional Council into one unitary "Super City". The Government's action differed from the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.
- In March 2010, the Government removed the Environment Canterbury's Councillors and replaced them with appointed commissioners. The elections in 2010 of Environment Canterbury councillors which were pending in 2013 were postponed to ensure a Water Management Plan for Canterbury would be created.
- Increased amounts of elective surgery
2008 electionThe 2008 general election saw the Fifth National Government elected to power with 44.93 per cent of the popular vote, ending nine years of Labour government. National formed a minority government with confidence-and-supply support from the ACT, United Future and Māori parties. The Governor-General swore Key in as New Zealand's 38th Prime Minister on 19 November 2008.
2011 electionThe 2011 general election saw the Fifth National Government continue with confidence-and-supply from the ACT, United Future and Maori parties. National increased its share of the party vote to 47.3 percent, but gained only one additional seat to 59 due to a reduced wasted vote, largely stemming from the return of the New Zealand First party to Parliament after a one term absence. National's increased share of votes however largely came at the expense of its support parties, which saw decreases in vote share and seats. ACT only gained a third of its 2008 vote with 1.07 percent, reducing its seats from five to just one, while the defection of Hone Harawira to form the Mana Party saw the Maori Party's share of vote split, reducing the party to 1.43 percent and reducing the number of seats to three. The United Future Party saw its party vote drop by a quarter to 0.60 percent, but retained its single seat. The reformed Government and its supporters therefore held 50.41 percent of the party vote and 64 of the 121 seats in Parliament.
2014 electionThe 2014 general election saw the Fifth National Government returned again, gaining a plurality with 47.0% of the party vote and 60 of the 121 seats. On election night counts the party appeared to hold the first majority since 1994 with 61 seats, but lost a list seat to the Green Party on the official count of the party vote. National re-entered confidence and supply agreements with the centrist United Future, the classical liberal ACT Party, and the indigenous rights-based Māori Party to form a minority government.
Subsequently, with the sudden resignation of Mike Sabin the National MP for in January 2015, and his replacement in the subsequent by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, the government became more dependent on the support parties.
Election resultsThe following table shows the total votes* for National, plus parties supporting the National-led government. For more details of election results, see the relevant election articles.
- 'Votes' means party votes only. 'Seats' means both list and electorate seats.
- Following the 2008, 2011 and 2014 elections, National gained support on matters of confidence and supply from ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.
The National Party held a leadership election to determine Key's successor as National Party leader and Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister Bill English announced that he would be standing for the leadership on 6 December 2016. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Police and Corrections Minister Judith Collins also announced their intention to seek the leadership, but dropped out due to low support from National Party colleagues. After Coleman and Collins' withdrawal, English was sworn in as the 39th Prime Minister on 12 December 2016. State Services Minister Paula Bennett and Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced they would contest the consequential vacancy for Deputy Leader; Bridges dropped out of the race after it was clear Bennett had greater support.